We’re inviting experienced educators across the university to open their classes to colleagues as part of the ‘Open for Observation’ program.

Since Open for Observation began in late 2021, teachers in over 63 units have opened their class and more than 200 staff have signed up to observe teaching in action. We’re now inviting you to open up your classroom to provide opportunities for colleagues to go along to one of your classes during Session 2. Previous participants said it was a worthwhile and beneficial experience all round, and we have some return visitors – teachers and observers – who are keen to repeat their experience.

Here’s what teaching staff who have previously participated in the Open for Observation program have to say:

It’s great to be able to support other educators and also to receive feedback to improve my own teaching.

I decided to participate in the Open for Observation program in order to receive objective feedback on my teaching practice … I had been plagued by self-doubt … What are the immediate consequences? I look forward to teaching more than I ever have before; my curiosity about research on L&T has definitely increased; and I will encourage my colleagues to make full use of the opportunity.

Their comments boosted my confidence in my teaching and motivated me to explore further and do more. Usually, the feedback after the observations turned into more extensive discussions on different aspects of teaching and sharing of experiences, which is why this project is so valuable.

Why open up your classroom?

  • To connect with academics and educators within and beyond your own discipline.
  • To share your professional knowledge, experience and practice with other educators.
  • To support early career academics and educators reflect on and enhance their own teaching practice and confidence.
  • To get feedback, ideas and new perspectives on teaching practice and approaches
  • To promote teaching innovation, creativity, and engagement – your own and that of others!
  • For fun

I’m a big fan of peer observation exchanges. I both invited others to my classroom and went along to observe.

Previous participant

You choose it, we arrange it

You tell us which class/es (dates/times) you would like to make available and advise how many observers you would like (this might be just one or two for a small tutorial class, or perhaps a larger number if it’s more of a lecture style class).

We organise the booking system so that you will be advised via email when someone books to attend one of your classes. You decide if and how you want to communicate with observers, either before or after observation (or both).

Any format, any discipline

Whether you are teaching a tutorial, lecture, workshop, seminar or webinar, whether it’s face to face or online, day or evening, you’re invited to open the door to your class. (Observation can work as well online as it does in the physical classroom so please open your virtual door!) Similarly, we invite educators from any discipline to open a class – and to expect observers from other disciplines. We’ve found that people are really interested in how teaching in other disciplines can inform their own.

There are so many different approaches to teaching – I liked the idea that people could go and see someone teach in a way (and possibly an area) that was totally different to their own style and discipline, which might challenge discipline ‘boundaries’ – that’s always a good thing!

Previous participant

Ready when you are!

We’re ready when you are to open up observations for Session 2. Feedback from previous participants suggests that Weeks 4 through to 10 in a regular teaching session works best for teachers. We know not everyone is teaching a regular session though – those teaching in MQBS and Macquarie University College are welcome to let us know what times would work for them (including Session 3).

We’ll be accepting class dates from 14th August onwards.

How to participate

If you’d like to open the door to your classroom, please fill in your details in this form and we’ll do the rest.

Embrace this opportunity. You might discover that what you do in the classroom is indeed innovative, original, interesting and creative. Sometimes we need another pair of eyes to see what we ourselves can’t see.

Previous participant

What else should I know?

How many classes can I open up?

That’s totally up to you. It can be just one class on a particular day, or more over several weeks. Think about what will be happening in class on that day and whether it would be interesting and appropriate for others to observe.

Who can observe my class?

We’re asking observers to have at least ONE session of university teaching under their belt. So you may have some very new teaching staff coming along to observe and learn, or it could be a more experienced colleague seeking different approaches for teaching and student engagement. You may also have observers from outside of your discipline/faculty.

We also welcome learning designers and other learning support staff as observers for their own professional development and learning.

How do observers book into my class / What’s the observation booking process?

We will publish a post in TECHE with a list of all available open classes, and with links to register for specific dates /times. To book, an observer will click on the class they are interested in observing. The observer will receive confirmation of their booking and a calendar invitation (so they remember what they booked!) which can be added to their calendar. The booking confirmation will have details of the on-campus class location or the Zoom link. Observers receive a reminder email the day before the booked class. They will be advised to contact professional.learning@mq.edu.au if they are no longer able to attend (and if that happens, we’ll let you know).

How will I know who is observing my class?

The booking system will automatically send you an email when someone registers to attend your class.

(It’s important to let us know in advance how many observers you would like in any one class so that the booking system can ensure that only that number of places are available.)

Will I have observers in all of my classes?

You won’t necessarily have observers in all of your classes. Although the Open for Observation Program is promoted widely through all available channels, anything *you* can do to invite your own colleagues, and to promote your open classes through your own Discipline / Department / Faculty/ School is very helpful. Contact the professional learning team (email below) if you would like some wording for an email to send to colleagues to promote your open classes.

What will the observer do during my class?

They will be in the class with students, just observing though, not participating or interacting with students (unless you request otherwise). You can provide us with any specific instructions which will be included with the class information when they book. For example, you may want them to introduce themselves to the class or to remain on mute. You may like to suggest particular things you would like them to focus on during the class, or something you would like specific feedback on.

Each observer is provided with a guided Reflection Sheet to record their observations with prompts that will focus on capturing practices and techniques that they may wish to explore for their own teaching development.

My visitors introduced themselves at the beginning of class. I invited them to join in my very interactive classes if they wanted to or simply observe. There were some who simply observed and others who joined in and a mixture of both! It was good that people could choose how to participate/ observe.

Will the observer/s contact me before the class?

Teaching staff who participated previously felt that it was useful to have a discussion before the class, but this is optional. A conversation or email exchange might be useful for:

  • outlining what the observer could expect during the class
  • providing any background information on the unit/class/lesson
  • letting the observer know what aspect of your teaching you would like feedback or ideas on
  • understanding what the observer is hoping to gain by observing your class
Can teaching staff from my own department / discipline observe my class?

Yes, of course. We encourage you to promote your open class and invite your colleagues along to observe. We also want to encourage people to observe classes outside of their own discipline to get a different perspective.

Should I meet with the observers/s after the class?

Almost all past participants believe it is an important part of the process to have a conversation with observers after the class. The conversation could take place at the end of the class, via email or over a coffee. That’s up to you to decide! No matter how you choose to do it, having a conversation about the experience can provide a useful opportunity for both observers and observees to:

  • hear and share observations
  • ask and respond to questions
  • discuss what worked well, what didn’t work
  • offer and obtain feedback on a particular aspect of the class
  • share approaches and perspectives on teaching and learning
  • have a collegial discussion about teaching.

So my main point of feedback about this program is that while the opportunity to observe is a good one, its real benefit lies in the follow-up conversations that are had, whereby the observer and the observed are able to reflect together and discuss aspects of the teaching and broader topics such as assessment. I believe that promotes best practice.

Previous Observer
Will I be able to get some feedback on my own teaching?

One of the great features of the Open for Observation program is that it is potentially a win-win situation – for you and for the observer. From your perspective, you are contributing to the teaching development of others and you may also receive some useful feedback. Bear in mind though that some observers may be fairly new to teaching and may not feel comfortable or qualified to provide you with feedback. You can ask for feedback, but this is very much an optional part of the program.

If you *would* like feedback, we suggest that you outline up front what aspect of your teaching you would like feedback on and provide observers with information about goals of the class and how it relates to learning outcomes – so they can provide informed, targeted feedback on your teaching. And of course, you can just ask for general feedback.

Some areas you could ask for feedback on:

  • if you are trying out a new tool/technology or approach, appropriateness and set up of technology
  • classroom management and dynamics
  • organisation of group work activities
  • whether instructions are clear and concise
  • student participation and engagement, active learning
  • Ideas about delivery modes
  • lesson structure, use of quizzes and other learning tools
How will the Open for Observation program be promoted?

There will be a TECHE post promoting the Open for Observation program and inviting staff to book in to observe a class. Teaching staff who open their class are encouraged to also promote the program (using the link to the TECHE article) within their own department/faculty.

If you have any other questions, please contact professional.learning@mq.edu.au

Banner image: Image by pressfoto on Freepik
Open and awesome image: Eric Lysenko on Shutterstock

Posted by L&T Development

The Learning and Teaching Staff Development team works with staff across the University to ensure they are supported to facilitate quality learning for students. This includes offering professional development, contributing to curriculum and assessment design, recognising and rewarding good practice, supporting peer review of teaching, and leading scholarly reflection. Email professional.learning@mq.edu.au with questions or requests.

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